When Elijah and I started this project we knew it would change our lives. We both had dreamed of doing this for many years and felt the time was right to take on the challenge. Though we have both made short films, and have worked in photography, videography, and media related fields, the magnitude of this project we are still Fully realizing. Making a feature documentary in a foreign land, in a foreign language about one of the most highly influential drinks the world has ever known is a daunting goal. Fast forward to today and it has been over 6 months since our last update on the status of the film. We are past schedule by a few months and since we have had to reorganize our plans times over, as you often must when pursuing creative endeavors. We wanted to take this time to update you on what we have been doing and our schedule for completion.

Firstly, we must formally apologize for our rudeness in not keeping you, our supporters, informed. Though Elijah and I have been very busy (the reason you see so many names at the end of films), there is no excuse for our poor communication in response to your kind support. We are finalizing our draft this month (November 2018), moving towards video and audio correction next month (December 2018), with the film scheduled for completion at the end of January 2019. Below I have taken the time to discuss some of the biggest challenges of creating a comprehensive film on such a deep topic. Again our deepest apologies for our absence and our utmost thanks for your support.

Talon Sherer & Elijah Sprints

One of our first objective in returning from filming in Japan was to figure out what questions we should ask. We had both studied Japanese language and history, but knew little about contemporary drinking culture, the history of beer, and the legal structure of alcohol in Japan. Despite a great deal of research, this topic is so up-and-coming that it is hard to understand it without being in it first-hand. The most obvious question of course is: what is Japanese Craft Beer? Within this question are of course others. What makes beer Japanese, what makes beer craft, and what does craft beer mean to Japanese people? Digging deeper we can ask harder questions. How is the drinking culture around craft beer different from the standard drinking culture in Japan? How does the Japanese pallet influence the flavors in beer? Being that most Japanese always eat whilst they drink, where does craft beer fit in? How does the historical context of how beer was born and came to be ubiquitous influence the current craft beer market and its growth? And we could ask many more, but only a few could we possibly answer in our documentary.

Beer and the culture that surrounds is as diverse as it is expansive. There could be feature documentaries and books written on tiny aspects of beer like homebrewing, style and taste, drinking culture, communal influence, economic viability, tax and legality, and others. So a huge challenge in going through our hundreds of hours of footage was to understand what scope was feasible and would help grow the beer community. We had decided from the beginning that we wanted the film to support connections between the pacific northwest of the USA (the birthplace of modern craft beer as well as our home) and Japan. While aspects of this decision have been a blessing: Americans are often interested in Japanese culture, and Japanese are often interested in American culture—it has also brought the challenge of addressing the differing common knowledge between the two cultures. People in the USA generally know a decent amount about beer and know nothing about Japan. And of course for Japanese people the opposite is true. We have had to put in a great deal of effort into making the film both informative and engaging for both demographics.

In Japan, the number a craft beer drinkers is still relatively small. And we can assume that the people traveling there are mostly interested in experiencing Japanese culture and traditions different from their own. With this in mind we have put a great deal of thought into making the film not only compelling and informative, but also concise and digestible. With more than 50 interviews at over 30 establishments throughout Japan it has been a challenge deciding exactly what to show in the film. We have so much good material from people who are truly changing history; and yet it would sabotage the success of the film if it were to be a 2 hour long film. Don’t worry though, all the extra footage and points of intrigue will not be wasted.
We are happy and excited as we near our goal of completion. A great deal of the outreach in getting the film out and supporting the Japanese Craft beer community is dependent on the release. So as we are much closer we will be sending out updates regularly with teasers and info regarding showings and future plans. Again we apologize for our lack of communication and thank you so much for your continued support.

Talon and Elijah